I awoke this morning in Brooklyn and immediately saw my friend Shafiur the documentary film maker online. You might remember Shafiur from his appearance on my podcast where we discussed the garment workers and the industry in Bangladesh.
This morning informed me that he has been working on a documentary that he will send me. The topic: the stateless people of Bangladesh. “The who?” I asked… surprised that although I like to think I know alot about things going on in south Asia, I had no idea what he was referring to.
He went on to explain that following the battle that would eventually make former East Pakistan into Bangladesh also left many people who wanted to stay East Pakistan isolated. Never included as citizens of Bangladesh, I was further shocked to know that they’ve lived in refugee camps since the 40’s. “100 toilets for 2000 refugees”, Shafiur described one camp. As many as 240,000 people live in these camps, they have lived in Bangladesh all their lives, even before there was a Bangladesh, but because of whos side they chose in a conflict back in the 40’s, today they live as refugees, without the rights and privledges of a Bangladeshi citizen.
I’m only starting to scratch the surface when it comes to learning about these people are how they have lived and yet gone unnoticed in their plight. Shafiur said that he would gladly join me for a podcast on the topic, but first I should watch the documentary. So my research continues, but already it is clear that hundreds of thousands of people in Bangladesh are shut out of their country, left stateless and no options for the future. An unacceptable situation for any human, anywhere.